Lived expertise

No one understands the intricacies of the child welfare system better than those directly impacted by it. Individuals with direct experience of the child welfare system — parents, kinship caregivers, foster caregivers, and alumni of foster care — are well positioned to offer unique insights into what works, based on their personal experiences and expertise. Their perspectives, recommendations, and collaboration are integral to designing a child welfare system that keeps children safely at home whenever possible, and a child and family well-being system that ensures all families have access to equitable supports in the communities where they live.

Those who have been impacted most by the system — youth, families, and resource caregivers — should be involved at all levels of the system as: the experts of what they or their family need at the individual case level; peer mentors who offer support and guidance to others navigating the system; and expert consultants and partners in co-design, leadership, and decision-making that advance system improvement and transformation.


Happy kids in the park

How can agencies and organizations prepare for authentic youth engagement?


Portrait of a group of young children standing in a line in the hallway of a school

What are some considerations for employing and supporting youth peer mentors in child welfare?


Shot of an adorable little boy affectionately kissing his mother at home

What are the four pillars of authentic engagement with communities and individuals with lived experience through co-design?


Please explore the related resources below and at Questions from the Field to learn more about lived expertise.